Grecia Chasteen on ‘Because of Yesterday’ and Healing from the Inside Out

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Grecia Chasteen met us on a snowy Cincinnati day at the public library downtown. We found a table on the top floor where we could chat without disrupting other readers. Her smile and calming demeanor made it feel like we were old friends catching up at the dining room table. She’s kind; she’s strong; she’s humble; and she makes you feel at home.

Grecia is the author of “Because of Yesterday,” which is based on her experiences overcoming abuse and trauma in her life and persevering. She is also a certified life coach, helping women to heal by strengthening their self-esteem.

I was ready to call her my life coach after 10 minutes of conversation. Today’s woman can learn a lot from this amazing human being.

Interview by Katey Parks. Photography by Angie Lipscomb.

Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about your background and where you started.

Well, I started a journal in third grade, and that’s when I fell in love with writing. I was able to write what I felt and thought without hearing anybody else’s comments. So that’s where I started: writing my own stories.

You were born and raised in Cincinnati. Do you have a favorite part of the city?

I like the art here. I think Cincinnati has so much to offer. Some say, “It’s so boring,” but it’s not boring; you’re boring! For me, I love parks. My favorite is Mount Airy. I like to go there and meditate.

What inspired you to write Because of Yesterday?

Because of Yesterday is actually my story. And I felt like it was time to tell it to help other women, you know – and not just necessarily women; there’s men who have also gone through abuse and domestic violence, as well. I feel like a lot of times, we’re silent because it’s not something that people talk about. And if we do talk about it, it’s kind of sugar-coated, you know, instead of actually talking about what we do experience.

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Were there any difficulties adapting your story into a piece of fiction?

We called it fiction, yes, but all of the events are true and based off of my story. But, of course, we turned it so I was able to write into the character, because they were actually feelings and emotions that I felt. So is that hard? Yes. It was very hard, because it’s not something that people just run around talking about: the hurt and the pain that they experience.

I can totally relate to the vulnerability that comes with writing, especially your truth, and the difficulties of writing that personal story. Do you think you’ll keep writing about that experience?

This is just the beginning for me. I want to dive deeper and be able to write more that other people can relate to – just because of all the feedback that I got from this book. I was totally shocked, but those people were waiting for it. People are waiting for somebody to relate to.

I saw that self-love is really important to you. I’ve read some of your affirmations on your Facebook author page. What do you do to practice self-love?

Affirmations are a big thing for me. Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself, like, “Grecia, you are beautiful.” Or, “You can do this,” because some days are just harder than others. You know, just taking time for me. I have to do a lot of meditation where I clear everything else out around me and just focus on me. Sometimes we get caught up in everything else going on around us or everybody else’s story. Of course, being in social work, I hear other people’s stories, and granted, I’m here to help, but I also have to remember to take care of me. If I’m not taking care of me first, I’m not helping anybody else.

How did you get to this point of being able to meditate and tell yourself that you are beautiful; this point of practicing self-love and believing it?

I’m not going to say that I’m an expert, because I’m still a human and I’m still a woman with broken pieces. So, there’s some days where I feel like I don’t even believe it, you know, and then there are days I do believe it. It’s just one day at a time. You just gotta have those moments where you fall backwards, and that’s okay. That’s how I learned to love myself more. Now, I’m okay to fall backwards and have those days where “I don’t believe it today.” But, I know next week, I will definitely believe it.

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Let’s talk a little bit about Women Inspiring and Networking (WIN). Tell us how and why you started that.

I started it because I wanted something positive for women – for us – to connect with one another and build each other up. I feel like there’s so much competition among women. We’re always placed against each other so that one has to be better than the other instead of sitting there, helping each other out. It’s something positive. I’ve gotten into groups like this before, and they’ll talk about how they’re positive, but it’s still drama. This group, there’s none of that whatsoever. It’s positive feedback.

What do you do when you meet?

It’s nothing set in stone, but we try to meet up to do things like pass out homeless bags that we’ve made and brought downtown. We like doing things in the community. But there’s no set schedule. It’s just whenever we can all get together.

Talk about your experiences and studies with life coaching and what you would like to do with it.

I just got my master’s [certification] in life coaching. This is just the beginning for me because I actually want to work with women and help them heal from the inside out. Spirituality is a big thing for me, so I’m wanting to use that. Heal from the inside with our self-esteem… The negative talk that we say to ourselves… trying to heal that first before we can heal the outside.

If you could give the women of Cincinnati one message, what would it be?

I think it just goes with what I’m wanting to teach: It’s for women to take time to love themselves from the inside out and not from the outside in, not to judge what you see on the outside, because we can all put on a pretty face. But that pretty face doesn’t mean anything if we’re not even smiling from the inside. It’s that feeling when you feel happy and free. For me, I feel that when I stand in front of the beach, that moment where nobody’s judging you and you’re just actually so happy that you’re smiling.

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Can you tell us about an influential woman in your life?

This is always a question, and it is so hard because I don’t have one person, and even when I think about it, I think I have too many. I can just pick a quality out of a person when I meet them because you learn something from somebody – at least you should, anyways. Whether it’s something good or something bad, you borrow something.

So, there’s women who I’ve come across that pushed me. When I wanted to give up, they pushed me. There’s one woman, in particular, that I worked with a long time ago, and I felt like she was my biggest fan before I even knew I was doing anything with my life. She said she saw something in me. And even now, she’ll still send me texts every once in a while saying how proud she is of me.

My sister. She’s a couple years younger than me, but sometimes you don’t know the age difference between us. She’s always rooting for me. Even when I was nervous about putting out this book and telling my story, she had to remind me that there’s people waiting for it.

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